10th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium

10th IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium
More than 250 environmental experts from 35 countries gather at the University of Maryland for the 10th Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law in July 2012

March 2013 Environmental Field Trip to Israel

March 2013 Environmental Field Trip to Israel
Maryland students vist Israel's first solar power plant in the Negev desert as part of a spring break field trip to study environmental issues in the Middle East

Workshop with All China Environment Federation

Workshop with All China Environment Federation
Participants in March 12 Workshop with All China Environment Federation in Beijing

Winners of Jordanian National Moot Court Competition

Winners of Jordanian National Moot Court Competition
Jordanian Justice Minister Aymen Odah presents trophy to Noura Saleh & Niveen Abdel Rahman from Al Al Bait University along with US AID Mission Director Jay Knott & ABA's Maha Shomali

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Climate of Change Observations (Guest Post from Copenhagen by Elizabeth Burleson)

The peacefully permitted protest scheduled to start at Taarnby Station and walk to the Bella Center had yet to impact ingress and egress to the proceedings when I reached the Bella Center by 7:30 this morning. I was able to go right in. Many country delegates spent the night in the center as negotiations went around the clock. The RINGOS (Research and Independent Non-governmental Organizations) quickly filled a large conference room to negotiate the distribution of remaining passes into the conference. Process rather than substantive treaty language has consumed many delegation’s time and energy. The RINGOS gave passes out to those who had been attending RINGO meetings.

I find myself saddened by the development of civil society splintering into RINGOS, BINGOS, ENGOS, etc. Scarce resources certainly lead to conflict, be it access to a seat at the negotiating table or to adequate water, energy, and stable climate. By mid morning a coalition of delegates within the Bella Center marched outside in solidarity with the 4000 individuals gathered at the gate seeking participation in the proceedings.

As a National Wildlife Federation Delegate, I joined the Climate Action Network (CAN) REDD meeting to assess the latest Cop Decision text on forestry. We agreed upon general recommendations regarding remaining bracketed language that should be removed from the text and discussed who could share these recommendations on the ministerial level. I was able to do so with Senator Kerry. His speech raised spirits and set a progressive tone. I also thought highly of the UN panel discussion on climate displacement and the CAN panel discussion on US energy policy, an issue that has involved greater political bipartisanship of late than climate legislative efforts.

Passing members of the press who were editing footage of the morning's demonstrations on their laptops was sobering. Delegates tried to keep each other informed as to what was occurring outside. Public transport to and from the Bella Center was suspended for part of the day as demonstrations in the City Center and outside the Bella Center sought to impact the proceedings. The deliberative process at the ministerial level inched along, weighed down by domestic political realities of respective representatives.

IUCN held a reception and dinner in the elephant house of the Copenhagen Zoo - symbolic on several levels. An old legend tells of five blind men who come upon an elephant. Touching it's side, the first concluded that an elephant is like a wall. Feeling it's tusk, the second decided that an elephant is like a spear. Grasping it's trunk, the third insisted that an elephant is like a snake while the fourth felt the Elephant's leg and knew that an elephant is like a tree. The fifth man held the elephant's tail and said that an elephant is like a rope.

The lesson that I take away from this timeless story is that collective understanding can transcend confusion and can facilitate cooperation.

No comments: